The Cleveland City School Board on Monday, faced with lower revenues, approved a 10 percent cut in the upcoming 2014-2015 general fund budget.
Business Manager Brenda Carson said the adjustments are necessary because the incoming tax revenue is under what was projected, as the amount of sales and property tax collected is down this year. Director of Cleveland City Schools Dr. Martin Ringstaff said, “Budgets are in trouble across the state.”
Dr. Ringstaff also said that, while cutting personnel is a last resort, he did inform system principals that if there is another bad year, that personnel reductions may have to come into play. The cuts to the budget also mean that the planned two percent across the board raise for the entire staff of Cleveland City Schools will be eliminated. Business Manager Carson said that these cuts are a must because if the budget is not balanced this year it will “create a snowball effect” and eventually spiral out of control.
Cleveland City Schools Technology Supervisor Andrew Phillips presented to the board a plan for a digital conversion pilot program. The program includes updating the existing technology infrastructure and the use of more digital content by having students and teachers make more use of laptops, tablets, and other devices.
Other aspects of the program include the purchase of digital textbooks and more professional development for the teachers involved. Mr. Phillips stated that the digital content will still be backed up by books. Dr. Ringstaff added that textbooks are no longer the main teaching resource - that they are just one of many tools at a teacher's disposal, “Textbooks are no longer the driving force in the classroom,” said Dr, Ringstaff.
The program is being implemented in Cleveland Middle school’s social studies classes, as next year is the year for new books in social studies and the classes under the social studies umbrella include a relatively small amount of classes when compared to math and language arts courses.
Several board members had questions about student access to the technology needed for the classes. Mr. Phillips said the school has already purchased two computer carts with funds provided by a Race to the Top grant, and officials intend to purchase new computers every year in order to prepare for future needs. Dr. Ringstaff said, “I’m fully behind this, I think it’s time to jump off the diving board into the future.”
The Board approved the pilot program, along with a proposal to build some additional security fencing around Cleveland Middle school.
The board also received an update from Brian Templeton of the Upland Design Group, on the new gym project. Mr. Templeton announced that phase one is right on track and that the second phase should begin on schedule. Mr. Templeton said that he has completed the design and it has been approved by the fire marshal. There will also be a mandatory meeting held on Thursday for interested contractors to take a look at the site and ask questions about the project. This will be followed by open bidding on May 1. The board also approved paying $36,607.90 to Upland Design Group for its work on the new elementary school project.